The Ten Commandments

This piece was originally a part of a larger article, but I couldn’t make it fit with the rest of the theme. It’ll have to be its own separate thing.

Whether you believe in God or the Bible and the stories within, either way it doesn’t take away from the importance of the ten commandments.

I’ve heard many arguments for why the ten commandments are pointless, mostly because these are self-explanatory or unnecessary (in a way, they are).

But wait, are they really self-explanatory? Considering the amount of times people break the ten commandments, perhaps they aren’t so easily understood by some people.

I’m going to take the ten commandments and explain each one in a simple manner.

But first we must do some groundwork:

The Groundwork

Source: Drew Jemmett

By groundwork I don’t mean to do what Immanuel Kant did with his book “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals,” but rather just laying down from what perspective I’ll be taking when discussing the Ten Commandments. (Reader should also look into Hegelianism and Pantheism, as they are relevant in today’s world)

There are generally speaking two ways of interpreting the Bible:

  1. Some will take what’s in the Bible literally
  2. Others try and interpret what’s in the Bible

Note: There’s also the “secret” third option, and it is not to believe anything that’s written in the Bible and dismiss it completely. I tend to think this is the lazy way to go about things.

I do not subscribe to the idea that the Bible is to be taken literally. If you read the Bible and take it all word-for-word, you will, more than likely, come out of the experience an atheist. No, I’m serious about this. Luckily for many believers, they’ve never actually taken the time to read the Bible.

Much of what’s in the Bible doesn’t make sense with the knowledge we have of the world today. Unless you are ignorant of the scientific field(s) (much of what is also on shaky grounds, but nonetheless…), you can’t take what’s in the Bible literally in its entirety. According to the Bible the Earth is roughly 6,000 years old, for example. And this is just one of a legion of ‘errors’ (if you can call them that) in the Holy book.

Because of the inconsistencies contained in the book, and in order for someone to take the Bible somewhat seriously, one must also be ready to question what’s in it and come to his/her own conclusions about the contents within.

The way I see it, every person who feels the need to read the Bible and does so, will find his/her own meaning for the book. One of those meanings can be that it’s all a lie. What ever the meaning ends up being, that’s the way it was meant to be.

I’ll approach today’s topic (the Ten Commandments) from the point of view that these are not commands, but rather suggestions for the individual. I also do not believe there is heaven or hell (though, it may be the case), but rather that these are mental concepts that the individual him-/herself will find themselves in when they break these ten commandments. What I mean by this is that heaven and hell reside here on Earth (and in your mind) and you are the one who locks yourself in either one through your actions.

What do I mean by this?

Have you ever noticed how especially violent criminals “suddenly” find faith during their time in the cell? They beg for forgiveness, but the society will not give it to them. So they must seek answers elsewhere, and often this leads them to finding God. God (or is the person themselves?) can forgive deeds done by a man if they ask for it, but this forgiving happens only mentally and not physically (though some physical change can also take place). After they’ve been forgiven, they can move on with their lives and their thoughts.

Using this line of thinking, hell is a place where you put yourself either mentally by thinking about something, or physically by succumbing to your inner beast-like being. Once you break one of the Ten Commandments once, it is easier to do it the next time. Some can’t do it the second time, which means they’ve been mentally scarred by the first time, and they may even punish themselves for it for the rest of their lives (hell on Earth). Others continue going down the path all the way to deepest pits of hell from where there is no way back to happiness (another hell on Earth, together with the manifestation of it). Whether this punishment continues to afterlife as well, I don’t know.

Now that we know from what perspective I’ll be taking a look at the Ten Commandments, let’s get to it. I’ll be using the King James version of the Bible.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me

There reason for this commandment is because there is only one God. There may be other spirits (alcoholic or otherwise), but none of them are above God. Neither is any other person, though many claim to be or wish they were.

The moment you start worshipping other Gods or godlike beings or entities, it is the moment you start straying away from what connects you to God, nature and other people.

This is kind of like what is presented in Pantheism, where ‘God’ is one concept that everything else is part of. The problem with Pantheism is that it doesn’t necessarily account for intelligent design (and as I previously pointed out, Chaos Theory/ butterfly effect), which itself would require for there to be one point of origin, a creator.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

Because there is only one God, attempting to create idols or worship is taking away from the fact that there is only one truly divine being.

This is perfectly illustrated in polytheism (belief in many gods) and animism (belief that places / beings in nature have spiritual power). I actually like the idea of animism to an extent, but that could be my shamanistic Finnish side talking. Animism is also partially represented in Shintoism.

Worshipping false idols is, however, not just for spiritual beings. It’s also to warn about following false prophets and (literal) idols (rock stars etc.).

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain

The commandment says you shouldn’t take (keyword) the name of God in vain. This simply means you shouldn’t take God/spirituality lightly. It is an important part of your life.

God/spirituality guides you and asks you to ponder about things. It’s close if not exactly like philosophy in a sense.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

This commandment is there to remind you to rest every now and then. Your brain and your body needs rest. Simple, huh?

Of course, it also talks about the sabbath day specifically. But did you know that the Sabbath day didn’t use to be Sunday, but rather Saturday?

Keep it holy? This is there to remind you to spend some time pondering spiritual things or praying.

Honour thy father and thy mother

This is surprisingly complex. There is only one God, but you will always have a father and a mother. You came to this Earth through them. In terms of hierarchy, your parents are the next important beings to God. This will always be the case.

This means that no one can replace your mother or your father. No government or other person (overbearing lover for example) can take the role as your parent.

This commandment is there to remind you of this fact. You are either with your parents or you are on your own (well, apart from your connection with God). The rest of the world can’t be trusted with this duty.

It is also there to remind you that your parents are human. Because they are human, they make mistakes. Honour them by acknowledging this fact.

And remember that you represent your yourself as well as parents. Can your parents be proud of your actions?

Thou shalt not kill

This is the part of the article where the need for the ‘groundwork’ becomes clearer, and why I’m saying the ten commandments are suggestions rather than commands. Let me explain.

In the Bible God kills many people and even gives orders to others to commit murder in his name. If this was strictly forbidden, then God couldn’t have done either of these acts.

Moreover, many have died in the name of and because of religion over the centuries. Clearly, killing is justified in some cases.

Yet, killing another person is illegal. And it should be.

The reason why ‘thou shalt not kill’ exists is because it is a permanent choice you’re making both for yourself and for another person. You can’t take it back.

Because it is a permanent choice, it will stick with you for the rest of your life. It can be seen on the faces of those who have seen death:

Soldier before, during and after a war
Source: petapixels

It’s a subtle change (not always so subtle), but you can most definitely notice it.

Some people kill themselves over their own thoughts. Some go on living with the memories still intact.

Then there are those who, once they got used to it, start to enjoy it. For these people there is no return to normal. An example of this would be someone like Jeffrey Dahmer:

He was a serial killer, so watch at your own discretion

And then there are those who are forced into doing it, for one reason or another. My guess is, this happens most often as a result of defending their own or their families lives. I’m not sure how these people feel about it, and I’d rather not ask. At least they can say they did it out of necessity rather than out of their own volition.

Then we come to the moral argument of death penalty. Is it morally correct to ask a person to kill someone else? The simple answer is no. Yes, the person who committed the crime might ‘deserve’ death (in some rare cases), but no one deserves the burden of responsibility (and remorse) that comes from killing another person.

I’m not sure whether a person can find true happiness after breaking this commandment, but what I do know it changes a person. And if you somehow manage to do it more than once, it says something about your character.

It is as the commandment says: thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery

Adultery by definition means sex between a married person and someone who is not that person’s husband or wife. It can be extended to mean partner as well.

Once again, it is a suggestion not to go through with it.

These days this is, rather unfortunately, a common act. You’re free to look into the statistics yourself. There’s no way to tell for certain, but I’ve read up to 70% of relationships contain cheating in them. Having been in quite a few relationships myself, I can see how this could be the case.

These days relationships overall are much shorter in time. Not quite sure why that is the case, but it’s just a fact. Perhaps boredom and short attention span are to blame.

But why you shouldn’t commit adultery?

First of all, it is morally wrong. Once you are committed to someone (promised to stay with someone), you’re breaking that promise the moment you cheat. This is obvious.

What’s not so obvious is that breaking this commandment will, once again, stick with you once the deed has been done. It’ll either remain as a memory and make your relationship more difficult (usually the person who cheated will subconsciously start causing trouble) or it makes further cheating easier to do. Either way its no good. And there’s no way to take it back either, and the cheater always knows it.

So, once cheating has been committed, the relationship you once had is over. Its been sullied and can never be repaired to what it once was. Is it worth it?

You shall not steal

Source: 卡晨

On this one I have some experience, so I’ll share.

When I was a little kid, me and my family travelled to Sweden. I couldn’t speak or understand Swedish at the time, so I was completely lost without my family.

We then headed into a supermarket and surprise surprise, I got lost. Or I’m not if I got lost because I found myself in the candy section of the shop. There were all kinds of goodies available and I really wanted to eat them, but I had no money and my family was gone somewhere else. It was then when I had the genius idea to taking some of the candy and eating it on the spot. I knew it was wrong before doing it and after doing it as well.

I can’t quite remember what happened after that, but I have a memory of my mother taking me out of the store while talking with the shopkeeper.

See, these memories stick with you. Even if its something on the more innocent side. And this is why you don’t steal.

There’s also the fact that you’re taking from someone else, and that someone else might need what ever you are taking more than you do. Or they might not, in which case you could have just asked to get what you wanted in the first place.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour

In this commandment ‘against thy neighbour’ is usually left out because it isn’t necessary. This one is about lying, and more specifically lying about someone else.

This is also something that happens all the time. Falsified accounts of someone else’s doings end up in the rumour mill on a constant basis, which in turn can have legal consequences for the person targeted or the person lying.

This one is there to remind everyone about accountability and honesty.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s

Quite the mouthful this last commandment. It is about envy.

The grass is always greener on the other side, or so they say at any rate. If you start comparing yourself to what someone else has, it can have disastrous consequences. It can lead to competition between neighbours or to straight up stealing, cheating or murder. In other words, coveting can lead to breaking the other commandments. And ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ never leads to anything to good, so just don’t do it.

The more reasonable way to approach this is to always look at what you have and understand that it is enough for the time being. Times will change and so will what you have now and in the future. If you focus on yourself, good things will come your way over time.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing much to add to this other than to say that the ten commandments aren’t pointless. They exist so that someone out there thinks about them. And so they are more like a reminder of what not to do. The question is why? And this is the question you need to answer for yourself.

Whether you believe in God or not. Heaven and hell or not. In either case it is important to spend some time pondering the questions presented in the Bible.

But before I close this chapter, I wanted to also bring up the idea of sin forgiveness. Is it possible? If the Bible is to be believed, yes.

No one is going to live a sinless existence. Apparently Jesus managed to do it, but other than that we don’t have many great examples.

In order for your sins to be forgiven, it is just as important to forgive yourself as it is for God to do it for you. At the end of the day, you need to be the one who forgives yourself, but you may need divine guidance before its possible.

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